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How You Can Avoid Being Exploited In Negotiations

By Marty Latz

Of course, if you can't get them to cooperate and/or you determine that a cooperative approach will be ineffective in that situation and there is some future relationship, use the following tactics:

1. Reciprocate their competitive -- and cooperative -- moves.

If they refuse to share strategic information, you refuse to share strategic information. If they make an extreme offer or concession, respond in kind.

But also respond cooperatively if they start to cooperate.

In addition, respond proportionately and don't overreact. Otherwise, you might permanently poison your potential to achieve your long-term goal.

Overall, illustrate to your counterparts the positive and negative consequences of their behavior. By consistently using this tit-for-tat approach, researchers have found that parties will maximize their individual and total gain.

2. Occasionally extend a peace offering.

Studies also have found that you should occasionally extend a peace offering just in case you misread your counterpart's moves and the negotiation degenerated into a cycle of retaliatory moves, helping no one.

Of course, don't walk too far out on the plank. Just extend a little peace offering every third move or so and see if they reciprocate.

3. Consider using an agent.

Finally, some nice negotiators are just too personally uncomfortable with any competitive tactics, including using tit-for-tat.

If you fall in this category, which is just fine, don't divert too far from your comfort zone. In those circumstances, consider hiring an agent or asking a friend to negotiate for you.

Otherwise, if you're the nice guy or gal, you may just finish last.

Marty Latz, a negotiation columnist for The Business Journal of Phoenix where this column originally appeared, is President of Latz Negotiation Institute, a national negotiation training and consulting firm based in Phoenix, Arizona. He has developed and taught negotiation training programs and seminars for corporations, cities, bar associations and law firms nationwide. Participants at his courses leave behind the intuitive and instinctive -- along with their inherent uncertainties -- and develop the strategic mindset thatís at the heart of successful negotiation.

A Harvard Law honors graduate, Marty is also an Adjunct Professor-Negotiation at Arizona State University College of Law. He also negotiated for the White House nationally and internationally on the White House Advance Teams. Marty is the author of Gain the Edge! Negotiating to Get What You Want (St. Martinís Press, 2004). For more and for previous columns, see or email Marty at

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August 2005